Thursday, October 18, 2007

cult of the cobra...


Well, my hopes for a peaceful week have so far proved overoptimistic. I continue to find myself exhausted and distracted by pointless conflict. It sucks, and I can't wait for it to end. The sooner the better...

But enough of my complaining. Last night's movie was "Cult of the Cobra," a 1955 film by Francis D. Lyon, starring Faith Domergue with Richard Long, Marhsall Thompson, Kathleen Hughes and David Janssen. I remember my dad at some point telling me had seen this movie as a kid, and that it had scared him. I can't say that I found it especially scary, but it is a pretty cool film, though a bit slow in the middle, especially for a sci-fi/horror flick from the 1950s.

A group of G.I.'s stationed in India during WWII pay a snake charmer a hundred bucks to sneak them into a secret cobra cult ceremony where they might have the chance to witness a woman turn into a snake. He warns them emphatically that if they are caught, they will be killed, but one of the fellows decided he needs to snap a picture during the ceremony, and then try to run out with the basket containing the snake-woman. The rest of the group escape and find him lying in the road with an empty basket and a snake bite. They manage to get him to the hospital in time, and he seems to be recovering fine, but then night before the men are supposed to ship out back to New York, he winds up dead from cobra venom.

The rest of the men return home, some staying in close contact, and try to get on with their lives, but the curse of the cult of the cobra follows them, of course...

Like I said, the middle section of the movie is quite slow, though the opening and later scenes are pretty exciting. There is one moment, a quick cut to someone just at the moment a truck rolls by, that seems like a (clever) direct reference to Val Lewton/Jacques Tourneur's "Cat People" (1942), a film with which "Cult of the Cobra" shares some narrative similarities. The acting is pretty good and I also dug the crisp b&w cinematography.

"Cult of the Cobra" is so far only available as part of a very reasonably priced Best Buy-exclusive DVD box set called "The Classic Sci-Fi Ultimate Collection Volume 2." Other films on the set include "Dr. Cyclops," "The Land Unknown," "The Deadly Mantis," and "The Leech Woman." I think volume one is out of print now, but that one's even better. It has "Tarantula," "The Mole People," "The Incredible Shrinking Man," "The Monolith Monsters," and "Monster on the Campus."

Until next time, if there is a next time...

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